Plant-Based Aid for Severe Childhood Epilepsy: An Analysis

Key Takeaways:

  • A recent study showed medical cannabis could significantly reduce seizures in children with severe epilepsy, indicating a potential alternative treatment method.
  • Despite promising results, it is currently not recommended to replace traditional epilepsy treatments with medical cannabis as more extensive research is required.
  • Preliminary findings show children using cannabis-based treatment drastically reduced their intake of conventional drugs, and no serious side effects were reported.
  • Unexpected benefits such as improvements in mood, behavior, eating habits, and sleep were observed in the children tested.
  • Medical professionals should manage the dosage and composition of the treatment, underlining the need for professional guidance.

Potential of Medical Cannabis

A recent study, conducted by British researchers, shows promising results implying that medical cannabis has the potential to significantly reduce seizures in children suffering from severe epilepsy. The study demonstrated up to 90% reduction in seizures, and lesser dependence on traditional medication.

However, it is stressed that independent implementation of this form of treatment is still not advised. As outlined by Dr. Kevin Chapman, a neurologist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and a representative for the American Epilepsy Society, it’s premature to substitute prescribed epilepsy treatments with medicinal cannabis; the current evidence is insufficient.

Nature and Scope of the Study

The above research included 10 children, aged between one and 13, with severe epilepsy, utilizing oils derived from medical cannabis. The oils were a compendium of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is a psychoactive component found in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), and other potentially active components.

Parents and caregivers provided feedback about their children’s responses through phone calls or video conference. Remarkably, their reports indicated significant seizure reduction among children whose severe epilepsy hadn’t responded to conventional treatment, and two who hadn’t responded to Epidiolex, a CBD-containing epilepsy treatment approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration.

Reduced Reliance on Other Drugs

Moreover, these children were furthermore observed to have drastically reduced their intake of other drugs meant for controlling their symptoms — they shifted from an average of seven daily medications to approximately one a day, after beginning the use of cannabis-based treatment.

Every child was administered approximately 5 mg of THC per day. No serious side effects were reported, the children did not experience a state of inebriation, and the study showed that all parents were of the view that the cannabis-based products were well-tolerated.

Unexpected Benefits

Interestingly, the children showed noticeable improvements in their overall mood, behavior, eating habits, and sleep, along with substantial enhancements in their cognitive capabilities. However, the mechanism through which cannabis reduces seizures remains to be conclusively explained.

Supervision and Regulation

The individual dosage and component blend for each child was managed by a medical professional, highlighting the need for professional guidance. As per Zafar, “Medical oversight is important. Parents interested in using these medicines for their children should approach well-informed clinics and discuss this option with their physician.”

The results of this study were published in BMJ Pediatrics Open.

The Future of This Field

The researchers are planning to carry forward this study by collecting more data about children with epilepsy who are using medical cannabis. Subsequently, the current evidence isn’t substantial enough to definitively ascribe a role to medical marijuana in treating seizures in children with hard-to-control epilepsy.

The jury is still out on the role of CBD or THC products in alleviating epilepsy symptoms. According to Dr. Chapman, before considering new therapies, parents should always discuss their options with the child’s doctor to formulate the best course of action.

A Different Perspective

Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a board member of the advocacy group Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, presents a differing viewpoint. According to Dr. Grinspoon, “It is not difficult to understand why there is such a determined parent’s movement in support of access to cannabinoids for pediatric epilepsy.”

Additional Resources

The Epilepsy Foundation provides more information on marijuana and epilepsy.

Diana Wells

Hello, wonderful readers! I'm Diana Wells, a writer, dedicated mother of two, and a passionate blogger with an emphasis on life’s most intricate journeys. Amidst the chaos of daily life and parenting, I've found solace and purpose in penning down experiences, particularly in the realms of health and mental wellbeing.Being a mother has not just blessed me with joy, but it has also opened my eyes to the complexities of mental health. From postpartum challenges to the daily stresses that many of us face, I understand the importance of nurturing our minds alongside our bodies.My writings aim to shed light on these often overlooked aspects of health. Whether you're seeking guidance, a sense of community, or simply looking to understand more about mental health, I'm here to provide a fresh, empathetic perspective. Let's navigate the winding paths of our minds together, finding strength, understanding, and hope in each other's stories.Thank you for allowing me to share my passion with you. Let's prioritize our mental wellbeing and celebrate the small victories along the way!
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